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Topic: Grover Whitehurst Testifies Against Class Size Reduction
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Richard Hake

Posts: 1,251
From: Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Registered: 12/4/04
Grover Whitehurst Testifies Against Class Size Reduction
Posted: Dec 10, 2012 1:45 PM
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Some subscribers to MathEdCC might be interested in a recent post
"Grover Whitehurst Testifies Against Class Size Reduction" [Hake

The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Diane Ravitch in her blog entry "When Grover Whitehurst
Testified Against Class Size Reduction" at <>
pointed to Leonie Haimson's <> "Grover
Whitehurst's big pay day, testifying class size doesn't matter" at

Haimson pointed out that:

a. According to report by Will Weissert (2012a) at
<>, economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
<> testified that students in smaller classes
"tend to do better on standardized tests and even eventually become
better citizens, more likely to own their own homes and save for
retirement" and that "study after study shows that smaller classes
often mean greater success for students." Schanzenbach also
coathored: (1) "Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood
Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion"
[Dynarski et al. (2011)] at <> showing that
smaller classes increased the rate of college attendance, especially
among poor students, and improved the probability of earning a
college degree, especially in high-earning fields such as science,
technology, engineering and mathematics; and (2) "How Does Your
Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence From Project
Star" [Chetty et al. (2011)] at <> showing that
these students were also more likely to own their own home and a 401K
more than twenty years later.

b. Whitehurst & Chingos (2011) wrote "Class Size: What Research Says
and What it Means for State Policy" [Chingos & Whitehurst (2011)] at
<> which argued that LOWERING CLASS SIZE WAS A
WASTE OF MONEY despite admitting in the report that "very large
class-size reductions, on the order of magnitude of 7-10 fewer
students per class, can have significant long-term effects on student
achievement and other meaningful outcomes."

c. When Whitehurst was at the US Department of Education from
2002-2008, he headed the Institute of Education Sciences
<>, which in a report "Identifying and Implementing
Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence: A User Friendly
Guide" [USDE (2003)] at <> cited CLASS SIZE
BE EFFECTIVE in randomized controlled trials - research's 'gold
standard."[Yet] as the lead off witness for the state on Friday
Whitehurst argued that contrary to the claims of the plaintiffs,
"Texas is doing pretty good" and that these huge budget cuts were
immaterial because CLASS SIZE DOESN'T MATTER.

d. Terrence Stutz (2012) at <> reported in the
"Dallas Morning News": "State attorneys also have been arguing that
larger class sizes in Texas - the result of a $5.4 billion funding
cut by the Legislature last year - have not hurt students because
CLASS SIZES DON'T AFFECT ACHIEVEMENT. Whitehurst testified in support
of that position. But again, under cross examination by Dallas lawyer
John Turner, Whitehurst had to acknowledge that he wrote an article
praising a well-publicized study of lower class sizes in Tennessee
that found significant improvement in student achievement. Whitehurst
explained that he had changed his mind since writing the article and
testimony, he said he was being paid $340 an hour by the state to
testify in the case, and had already racked up 220 billable hours -
for just under $75,000 - before he took the witness stand."

e. Whitehurst racked up 220 billable hours? That means Whitehurst
must have worked nearly thirty 8-hour days on it. Wonder what took
him so long?

To access the complete 23 kB post please click on <>.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles: <>
Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs: <>
Academia: <>
Blog: <>
GooglePlus: <>
Twitter: <>

Physics educators have led the way in developing and using objective
tests to compare student learning gains in different types of
courses, and chemists, biologists, and others are now developing
similar instruments. These tests provide convincing evidence that
students assimilate new knowledge more effectively in courses
including active, inquiry-based, and collaborative learning, assisted
by information technology, than in traditional courses."
- Wood & Gentile (2003)

"In science education, there is almost nothing of proven efficacy."
- Grover Whitehurst, as quoted by Sharon Begley (2004)

"Well-designed and implemented randomized controlled trials are
considered the 'gold standard' for evaluating an intervention's
effectiveness, in fields such as medicine, welfare and employment
policy, and psychology."
- USDE (2003)

"Scientifically rigorous studies - particularly, the 'gold standard'
of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT''s) - are a mainstay of
medicine, providing conclusive evidence of effectiveness for most
major medical advances in recent history. In social spending, by
contrast, such studies have only a toehold. Where they have been
used, however, they have demonstrated the same ability to produce
important, credible evidence about what works - and illuminated a
path to major progress."
- Jon Barron (2012)

"In some quarters, particularly medical ones, the randomized
experiment is considered the causal 'gold standard.' It is clearly
not that in educational contexts, given the difficulties with
implementing and maintaining randomly created groups, with the
sometimes incomplete implementation of treatment particulars, with
the borrowing of some treatment particulars by control group units,
and with the limitations to external validity that often follow from
how the random assignment is achieved."
- Thomas Cook and Monique Payne in "Evidence Matters" [Mosteller &
Boruch (2002)]

"According to the California Class Size Reduction Research Consortium
[CCSRRC (2002)], California's attempt to duplicate the vaunted
Tennessee RCT study of reduced class size benefits results yielded
*no conclusive evidence of increased student achievement*. One
reason appears to be that there were simply not enough teachers in
California to support any substantive class size reduction without
deterioration of teaching effectiveness."
- R.R. Hake (2009)

REFERENCES [URL's shortened by and accessed on 10 Dec 2012.]
Baron, J. 2012. "Applying Evidence to Social Programs." New York
Times, 29 Nov; online at <>.

Begley, S. 2004. "To Improve Education, We Need Clinical Trials To
Show What Works," Wall Street Journal, 17 December, page B1; online
as a 41 kB pdf at <>, thanks to David Klahr.

CCSRRC. 2002. "What We Have Learned About Class Size Reduction in
California, California Class Size Reduction Research Consortium
[American Institutes for Research (AIR), RAND, Policy Analysis for
California Education (PACE), WestEd, and EdSource]; full report
online as a 9.5 MB pdf at <>. A press release is
online at <>.

Hake, R.R. 2009. "A Response to 'It's Not All About Class Size',"
AERA-L post of 6 Feb 2009 09:42:04-0800; online on the OPEN! AERA-L
archives at <>. Post of 6 Feb 2009 09:42:04-0800
to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post
were also distributed to various discussion lists and are also on my
blog "Hake'sEdStuff" at <> with a provision for

Hake, R.R. 2012. "Grover Whitehurst Testifies Against Class Size
Reduction," online on the OPEN! online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives
at <>. Post of 9 Dec 2012 18:34:56-0800 to
AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are
being transmitted to several discussion lists and are also on my blog
"Hake'sEdStuff" at <> with a provision for

Mosteller, F. & R. Boruch, eds. 2002. "Evidence Matters: Randomized
Trials in Education Research." Brookings Institution, publisher's
information at <>. information at
<>. An expurgated Google book preview is online
at <>.

USDE. 2003. U.S. Department of Education, "Identifying and
Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence: A
User Friendly Guide." Institute of Education Sciences, National
Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, online as a
140 kB pdf at <>.

Wood, W.B., & J.M. Gentile. 2003. "Teaching in a research context,"
Science 302: 1510; 28 November; online as a 213 kB pdf at
<> thanks to Portland State's "Ecoplexity" site.

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